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Mera Peak with Ascent Mountaineering

Sydney, Australia
3 posts
1 review
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Mera Peak with Ascent Mountaineering

I recently returned from Nepal and felt compelled to write this review following my negative experiences.

This was my fourth trip to Nepal and the hardest trek that I have attempted to date, being Mera Peak, which sits at 6,476m.

My disappointment lies with the UK organization, Ascent Mountaineering, which I booked the trek through; because of dealings I had with this organization both prior to the trek and in Nepal (a representative from the company took part in the trek) and I have listed some reasons for my feelings below.

I felt the information provided prior to the trek was insufficient. The itinerary itself didn't include any information about the day to day trekking, such as terrain, highest and lowest altitudes during the day and approximate trekking hours - the only information provided was the destination name and altitude. The kit list that was provided left out required equipment and listed incorrect items. There was a general lack of information such as additional costs required on the trek, details around tipping, the dates that accommodation was booked in Kathmandu and even when the pre-departure trek meeting would take place.

On the trek I had various conversations with other groups we met and it became apparent that the 13 trekking days allowed on our itinerary was far less than the average time allowed for trekking Mera Peak, which I have since found to be around 15-18 days. I regret that I hadn't personally investigated this further before arriving in Nepal and feel the reduced itinerary not only risked the safety of the group but also affected the group's ability to successfully summit (only 1 from our group of 6 made it to the top).

During the trek I was very disappointed to learn that only 42% of the money I had paid for the trek was passed onto the Nepalese trekking company, who bear the majority of the costs. In my opinion, this is a ridiculously low cut and I'm extremely upset that more of my money didn't reach the people who genuinely deserved it.

I had various dealings in Nepal with the UK company representative and personally found him to be unprofessional, dishonest and patronizing, not to mention largely unknowledgeable about the Nepalese trekking culture. The disrespect that this individual showed to other trekkers in the group, the Nepalese people and me has left me with a somewhat sour taste in my mouth.

In saying this, Nepal is such an amazing country and it most definitely has me under its spell. Mera Peak is beautiful, with breathtaking views, and I hope to be back again soon for a second attempt. Going forward, however, I'll be booking my treks directly through a reputable trekking company based in Nepal, rather than through a middle man like this.

Espoo
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1. Re: Mera Peak with Ascent Mountaineering

Thank you for your thoughts, sorry to hear things did not go well. It is too bad that many Mera climbs are run as an economy package making them too short for safety and comfortable acclimatization not to mention unavoidable delays (weather, heath etc). I also have to say that the customers should also understand what they are doing or attempting, like you said more research would have been useful. The only proper way to ensure an enjoyable climb is to have enough time, preferably including an acclimatization trek to EBC, to make your own arrangements which ensures that YOU are in a total control as the one who pays directly, not twice removed by middlemen. Certainly this demands some experience, which you now have…

I have been there only once (and once on Peak 41 right next to Mera), and I liked every minute of it. Moving light, just 3 persons, well acclimatized and super fit. Most people who have climbed or attempted Mera find it hard to believe that we actually hiked from Mera La camp to the summit in 4 hours, another 4 hours down to Thagnak, as groups use 2-3 days for the same. It took us 7 days from Dingpoche to Mera to Lukla, over Amphu Labtsa pass.

Chania, Greece
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2. Re: Mera Peak with Ascent Mountaineering

Unfortunately offering shorter treks (with generally insufficient time for acclimatizing) is a common way for (poor quality) tour operators to cut costs. In the case of Ascent Mountaineering costs remain quite high (similar to some reputable UK tour operators offering slightly longer treks to Mera Peak) so in this case it is more a way to line their own pocket.

Sydney, Australia
3 posts
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3. Re: Mera Peak with Ascent Mountaineering

Wow - that is amazing. Were you already acclimatized from a previous trek? Either way you and your group were clearly fit and it's an amazing accomplishment.

This is obviously a lesson learnt for me - and having been to Nepal a few times before I'm annoyed with myself that I hadn't properly investigated the time needed to summit etc before signing up with this company.

The views from High Camp were amazing but I want to get to the top as I'm sure they're even better from there. Next time!

Espoo
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4. Re: Mera Peak with Ascent Mountaineering

Re #3: We had walked in from Jiri, visited Gokyo, crossed Cho La, spent 3 nights at EBC, climbed to Lho La pass at 6000m (camp I on the West Ridge route), crossed Amphu Labtsa 5800m before arriving at Mera La, so I suppose you could call us well acclimatized… And that was 30 years and 20 kilograms ago… My porter was one Ang Babu (Chiri) Sherpa, 16 years old at the time, who later climbed Everest 11 times, spent 22 hours at the summit without oxygen and set several speed records on the mountain, so maybe he was just a natural.

Anyway, if you need an agency contact to arrange your own re-attempt, send PM. Reserve enough time for it, including EBC, much more enjoyable.

About prices: in 2000 we attempted Peak 41 next to Mera, using Mera permit. 3 week expedition Lukla-Mera-Lukla cost $750 per person (+ 350 permit for the group of 4). Prices have gone up certainly since then, but at that time it was 60-70% less what others paid for a 18 day Mera climb. So call your friends, make your own group and have fun.

Chania, Greece
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5. Re: Mera Peak with Ascent Mountaineering

I would have loved to have known Ang Babu Chiri Sherpa!

Espoo
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6. Re: Mera Peak with Ascent Mountaineering

I met him again in 1998, when passing through Traksindu on the way to EBC. I was sent to a huge new lodge where I spotted him doing the kitchen chores. He still recognized me and gave me a name card which read: "Babu Chiri Sherpa, seven times Everest summiter". He still was the same small, thickset unassuming man I had walked with 13 years previous, but now wealthy and famous.

Surrey.
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7. Re: Mera Peak with Ascent Mountaineering

OP - thanks for posting this up - hopefully it will be (another) warning to people not to compare trekking, peaks etc packages mainly on the basis of "competitive" itineraries (and usually price as well). It has dropped off recently, but up till a few months ago there seemed to be quite a lot of posts from people asking advice about packages with tight (or worse) itineraries (and often low prices) - it seemed that people were implicitly assuming that the "quality" side of things was much the same with the different operators, itineraries and prices. Whilst high prices do not guarantee good service etc, more realistic itineraries will certainly reduce or remove many of the issues re acclimatisation.

I certainly agree with arkienkeli (Petrus is an easier name to type) re the huge benefits of really good acclimatisation - even if people don't get severe AMS, many of the trekkers that I have seen higher up are clearly struggling - as I have posted many times, every time I have been high up an awful lot of the trekkers seem to be zonked out - they don't have AMS, but are so poorly acclimatised that they just do not seem to be enjoying the whole experience or in some cases even much aware of it. Going all that way, spending all that money just to waste it because of tight itineraries - crazy.

Re using companies based outside Nepal, Alanyeti has often made the point that Nepalis do in fact know quite a lot about trekking and tourism in Nepal and are rather good at it.

Settle, United...
Destination Expert
for Nepal, Annapurna Region
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2,333 posts
140 reviews
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8. Re: Mera Peak with Ascent Mountaineering

Yes rd - and the original post illustrates exactly why !

re Babu Chiri, I too had the pleasure of meeting him in his lodge in 1998. Conversation included the fact that he had summited 7 times, and that he had 7 children. Someone asked how his wife felt about his going off and summiting Everest . . . . my guide considered the numeric coincidence, and commented on it - the whole kitchen, including Babu Chiri, erupted with laughter !

Edited: 30 May 2014, 12:27
Kuwait City, Kuwait
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9. Re: Mera Peak with Ascent Mountaineering

Bella I know this is a bit late and I do apologize. Check with Mountain Experience. They are a Nepalese/UK owned, Nepal based company and the sister company of Himex which is owned by acclaimed high altitude expedition leader Russel Brice from the UK. I have known several people to use them and their expectations were exceeded.

Its worth it to spend a few months researching heavily before you decide on who to go with. I have also found several Nepal based companies who have extremely high standards on treks/peak climbing expeditions.

Best of luck

10. Re: Mera Peak with Ascent Mountaineering

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